Nextel is a Mobile Phone Provider operating primarily in the United
States and Canada (with international operations handled by it's Nextel
International subsidiary). They specialize in company-wide communication
solutions for corporations and other large entities.
Nextel's predecessor, Fleet Call, was founded in 1987 as a high-band
communications provider for vehicle fleets. The name was changed to the
current name, Nextel, in 1993 and through a serious of mergers and
acquisitions over the next 3 years because one of the dominant players in the
corporate communications world.
At this point, early 1996, Nextel was still involved in fleet
communications systems, not cellular personal communications. That would
come in mid 1996 when Nextel made a significant investment in Motorola's hardware in
preparation of a cellular network utilizing the first installation of
Mot's iDEN wireless network technology. In October the service
was deployed in Denver, Boston and Atlanta after it had proved itself
under heavy use during the 1996 Olympics.
After large-scale proving in those selected markets, nationwide (USA)
coverage was deployed along with another first: Nextel would not charge
roaming charges anywhere on it's network, regardless of location. Soon
after, they also were the first to offer billing that roundes usage to the nearest second as opposed to other providers who still round up to the nearest minute.
Nextel is currently chaired by William Conway Jr. who was named chairman in February of 2001.
Despite all the cool features like Nextel Direct Connect mode (where a closed link is made between two phones directly as a feature of iDen) and "free incoming calls" plans, Nextel still remains one of the (if not the) most expensive mass-market Cellular Provider in the United States... which is not a big deal considering probably 80% of their subscriber base is corporate where reliability and flexability is more important.